Immigration documentary transcript
Craig, still went every Friday to
the prison. What we called pod
meetings. That's the way that the
prison was set up.
And in the room where we met most
of the time,
there was a big blackboard. And I
would put things on the blackboard:
this is what Senator So-and-So
proposed for us, and this is what
Congressman's Goodling's doing, and
on and on.
Nobody knows how long we're gonna
have to stay. Maybe tomorrow gonna
be free. But we have hope.
Chapter 7: Folded Dreams
We all started to learn how to fold
paper. We made them into bowls,
pineapples, and birds. Later, we
used toilet paper and water --
together with soap to make
sculpting paste. We let it sit for
two days, then used it to make
Zheng Kaiqu was the first one I
visited in prison. He spent his
whole time just making art.
I gave him a pictures of Toby, so
he made, it was two parrots
actually, African gray parrots.
And all this is Zheng Kaiqu's.
Both the folded and the sculpted.
Isn't this beautiful?
This is what I made in the US. I
made two birds. They are supposed
to go like this. It is beautiful
like that. Using American glue it
would be shiny. This is the US
national bird, the eagle.
Title: WGAL TV News, York PA, April 29, 1996.
It's just amazing.
They've gone from being 50 men with
time to kill to being 50 folk
The works of art by the Chinese
refugees is described as
incredible, an expression of
freedom and hope -- hope that is
waning for some. And attorneys for
the immigrants say every week more
and more of their administrative
appeals are being denied -- right
now, deportation back to China
seems certain for nearly half of
them. In York, Lisa Mishler, News
Chapter 8: Misled
After being in jail many years, I
was confused. The immigration
service said they could not release
us. They said there are two
options: we could stay in jail or
we could go to China. An officer
told us that things had improved in
China. And that I wouldn't be
persecuted. We were misled.
The INS told us there would be no
Both Yan and Kaiqu decided they
would rather be sent back to China
then stay in jail.
The police took us from the York
jail by the police to Philadelphia,
in handcuffs and shackles. We were
put on a plane to California.
From there, we boarded another
plane to Shanghai. Not until we
were on board did the police take
off our handcuffs.
Ultimately, 99 detainees opted for
deportation. But they didn't know
for sure what would happen when
they stepped off the plane.
We were sent to Fuqing jail. In
Fuqing I was fined $2000. It's
miserable in jail. We were
beaten...beaten every morning.
The police slapped us around,
accused us of tarnishing China's
TITLE: Rujian Re-education Center. Detention facility
They held us for a week and then
sent us to Fuzhou. In Fuzhou I
was fined. They also sterilized me.
It took about 20 minutes. I was
terrified. I could see the whole
thing. I went home. We hugged and
cried. I didn't know what to say.
My kids had grown and had changed a
lot. The kids were happy to see me.
They didn't understand the
bitterness of life.
Chapter 9: Release.
By early 1997, 57 Golden Venture
passengers were still in jail, 42
in York. Craig had lost in court,
and the chances for release were
We were able to finally get a front
page New York Times article about
the fact that these guys were still
locked up after all these years.
Right about that same time, our
local congressman, Bill Goodling,
managed to collar President Clinton
at the State of the Union address.
And as he's going down the aisle,
glad-handing and shaking as you see
on TV, Goodling grabbed him and
said, "Hey Mr. President, I've
still got these Chinese locked up
in my district; what are you going
to do about it?" And the President
told Goodling, "Well call me
tomorrow and we'll talk about it."
Goodling was chairman of the
powerful house education committee,
and the keynote of Clinton's speech
that year was "the National Crusade
William Goodling, Congressman, 1974-2000, Feb. 14, 1997
Two days later I was invited to the
White House for a 45 minute
discussion on education. And I
took with me some of the artwork of
the Golden Venture Chinese in the
prison. And gave it to him, and he
said, "that is beautiful."
On February 14, 1997, President
Clinton issued a parole for the
jailed Golden Venture passengers.
I'll never forget their faces
looking out at me. I put my thumb
up to them and they looked back at
me and said "all of us?" And I
said, "yes, all of you."
They got released on the day I was
shipping out to go to Bosnia,
actually, so I called back home on
the pay phone, I'm standing there
in my camouflage Army uniform in
the middle of Ft. Benning, Georgia,
late at night ,and I got the
word that they had been released.
The order was for their release
only -- they were not given legal
status. On Feb.
26, Guilin and the other York
detainees left just as they had
arrived, in white and green INS
buses. They had been in jail for
almost four years.
Various crowd voices. Song: "Freedom."
We must say thank you to Mr.
President Clinton. He helped us a
lot. He let us to be released.
I just feel...exciting.
Group singing: "Amazing Grace." Voices: "Hallelujah." Crowd
Six years after we left, we came
out of prison to face a completely
blank slate, an empty life. I lost
my family, my marriage, everything.
Chapter 11: Life in the Beautiful Country
The Golden Venture passengers
released from jail spread out
across the country. Nine years
later, they are not legally
American. They can't go to China
to their families. Some haven't
seen wives and children for more
than 12 years. They live in
limbo. Arming had been shuttled
from one federal prison to another.
He was on the verge of deportation
when he was released on the Clinton
Kitchen noises, voices.
Probably not many people know that
I came on the Golden Venture. It's
nothing special. We are all the
same. For the first two or three
years out of jail, I stayed in the
New York area.
I was closer to my friends and
relatives. My friend opened a place
in Florida and asked me to help. I
helped him for about a year. I was
getting familiar with things in
Florida. I made some American
friends. So I decided to settle
down here. We're not like
Americans. We don't have the
language skills and the work skills
they do. Americans take it for
granted. This is the reality for
first generation immigrants. For
our American born children, this
won't be the case.
Even without legal status, Arming
has opened a restaurant and bought
a house, where his employees live
For this restaurant, I learned
more. I went to bartender school
to train myself how to make
cocktails. And, I learned to cook
Japanese grills and sushi. I'm
working the same like a regular
worker. We're the first one to open
the restaurant and the last one to
go home. Every night I have to stay
up. Do some paper work. A lot of
tax returns. We often work seven
days a week. The goal in the future
is not working so many hours. We
can live like you guys, same,
that's our goal
Guilin lived in New York after
being released from prison, but the
garment factory where he worked
closed. Since then, he has been a
In America, our work is very
simple. Every day, do the same job.
I work there at least 13 hours a
day. Six days a week. Most
students is OK.
They give a couple of dollars. When
I deliver to a building, I leave
the car running. See? Now it's
12:02. 11:00 to 12:30. Thirteen and
a half hours. At least 120 miles.
Uh Oh. Nobody here.
I work hard but also play hard.
Otherwise I wouldn't be so healthy.
I sometimes I go to nightclub.
With my friends. We have very happy
time there. You can dance
whatever you want to dance, you
Chapter 11: Illegal Alien
After Yan was deported and
sterilized, he returned to his
hometown. He was burdened by debts
left from the Golden Venture
I was very depressed. People looked
down on me. I owed a lot of money.
I had no choice but to go to the US
For his second journey he paid
$50,000 to snakeheads to bring him
back to the US.
I was introduced to a document
forger. The name on the passport
was fake. The photo was mine. I
was part of a tourist group. My
passport described me as an
"engineer." The immigration
officer was suspicious of our
group. When he saw that I'm an
"engineer" he asked me a math
He asked me, "If 2X + 4 = 16, what
is X?" I answered him right away.
That's why he believed me. This is
really simple math for Chinese,
More than 50 of the deported Golden
Venture passengers have come back
to the US illegally. The current
going rate for the trip to America
is $70,0000. An estimated 20 to
30,000 Fujianese pay this sum every
In the US we need to survive and
work toward opening a business.
It's hard. But there's a saying.
"After you taste the most bitter of
the bitter, you will be a man above
men." I knew I would be working
hard in the US. I would be working
10 hours a day. That's what
I'm doing now as a chef. It's
exhausting. I'm used to it. When
business is good, the boss hires.
When it's bad, you move on.
I've worked all over. Long Island.
Manhattan. Philadelphia. And now
in Tennessee. I drifted around the
world for more than 10 years,
separated from my family. How sad
is this? I can't find an answer to
the question of life.
Chapter 12: China
Your daughter is getting married
This is my daughter.
The bride has arrived. Where are
Like Yan, Kaiqu was deported from
the York jail. He lives in the
city of Changle.
After more than two years in jail,
my family was destroyed. My wife
ran away with another man. The kids
were little. It was hard to find
another job at home. All I could do
is go to the US and try again.
Kaiqu tried to go back to the US.
He flew in by himself, and was
turned back at the airport. He had
also tried to enter the US one time
before the Golden Venture.
It was during the Gulf War. They
thought I was a terrorist. When we
got to San Francisco, they
sent us back right away.
I tried to go to the US three
times, but was sent home three
times. Isn't it bad luck?
If I could have stayed in the US,
my family would be doing very well
now. It was probably my fate.
In the town social hall.
He is one of my companions from the
Do you plan to go to the US again?
Yes. I've got a plan. OK. That's
Around the social hall, poems
inscribed on the columns celebrate
the generations of villagers
who have gone abroad.
A stream flows to the lake. The
lake thanks and remembers the
Relatives overseas will thank their
hometown. Through the winds of the
sea. And will spread the name of
their hometown forever.
This is my friend's house. His son
has been in England for eight
years. They built it for
When I was young, I thought the US
was heaven and wanted to go. I
don't want to go now, because I
know life is tough there. You work
from 11 a.m. to 3 or 4 a.m. You
don't have a choice. It's work,
work, work and you can't relax.
Life is better at home.
Crowd noises at wedding.
Light the incense to bring
prosperity. Luck to the bride's
family. Luck to the groom's family.
Chapter 14: 44 Pounds Of Luggage
This is the letter that Lin Yan Min
received. Telling him to report and
bring his 44 pounds of luggage to
report, and be deported. And I'm
just flabbergasted. He wanted to
know if he should sell his
property. He's been here almost 11
Like Lin Yan Min, the Clinton
parolees live at the uncertain
mercy of the Dept. of Immigration
and Customs Enforcement. They are
in stateless limbo -- here, but not
legally American. They can't go
to China, and some haven't seen
wives and children in 12 years.
In 2001, another Golden Venture
passengers was almost sent back.
He went to report in. And they told
him to stay there and they put him
in a bus and they were shipping him
off to deport him.
Only Bev's last ditch efforts saved
Yi Zhou Hau. But Yi and the other
former detaineess know that their
new lives could suddenly be undone
by a deportation notice.
It's in your mind all the time.
It's happening right now. If
you're not legal, you can't even
get a license. So problems come
up when policy changes. After
9/11, if you are not legal, you
cannot drive. If you are not
driving, what kind of a life are
you going to have?
Bev with Guilin.
So if you know where any of these
guys are, I would appreciate it.
Bev stays in close touch with
Guilin and other former detainees
- helping them deal with
immigration problems. She has
joined with Craig in a stop gap
maneuver to protect the Golden
Venture passengers from being
They convinced their local
Congressman to introduce
legislation called a "private
relief bill." The bill would give
the former detainees full legal
Well you're here physically but
you're not here legally. That's
what parole is. We're going to
tolerate your presence but you have
no legal right.
I know and you know and they know
in Washington that too many of our
agencies do not know what the other
one is doing. The subcommittee on
judiciary told me two years ago
that as long as they're on a
proposed bill before Congress, they
are safe. Why are they getting
letters saying they're going to be
deported? I mean, does anybody know
what's going on down there? That
scares the hell outta me.
Title: Russell Knocke, public affairs director, Immigration
and Customs Enforcement
Simply introduction of legislation
on behalf of an alien does not
disqualify them from deportation.
We would work of course with the
members, and if there was
legitimate opportunity for that
legislation to pass, if it's got
legs, then we would certainly take
that into consideration as we're
taking a look at removals for the
coming days and weeks.
ICE video footage.
We keep in our minds every day the
attacks of September the 11th, we
remember the impact that had on our
country, on our society, on each of
us individually, and we remember
that the immigration system
certainly had a role to play.
Since 9/11, very few privates bills
have passed. Even in normal
times, they are rare.
The bills been kind of, uh,
languishing in congress for a few
years now, and it's part of
a bigger immigration picture, as
has been the curse of the Golden
Venture people all along.
My name is Bay Buchanan, and I am
the chairman of Team America.
There's some strong lobbying groups
out there, who are anti-immigrant,
and some very outspoken congressmen
who just seem to want to seal the
borders of the United States.
Representative Tom Tancredo leads
the anti-immigration faction in
Congress. Until recently, he was
seen as an extremist and was a
political outcast. Today he is a
People have come across by the
thousands, and in some cases
hundreds of thousands, and have
created these incredible, well,
they have devastated the land.
Close the borders. Close the
borders in California and all
across between Mexico and
the United States.
I stand strongly against amnesty.
Amnesty would say to other illegal
aliens that you can come to America
and get citizenship automatically.
Let 'em work in America doing jobs
that Americans won't do on a
temporary basis and then go back to
Title: Rep. Tom Tancredo, Leader, House Immigration Reform
Illegal immigration is just that,
and it doesn't matter whether
they're coming from China, or
Mexico. They are here illegally. As
a result, they have to suffer the
consequences if they are found out.
I don't know how I can handle
personally, or emotionally, them
telling me these guys are going
back to China. I really don't know.
I guess because I can never believe
my country can do that to them --
and yet I know realistically
it can happen.
Bev on the phone.
As long as he's part of the
Congressional bill, he cannot be
bothered, OK? They're scared to
death. They all think they're going
to get these letters one by one.
And I can't find the right person
in Washington that can answer my
question. What can you do about
In 2003, Craig was sent to Iraq,
now a Lieutenant Colonel. Bev was
left to defend the Golden Venture
passengers on her own.
Chapter 14: On the Hill.
With Lin Yan Min's deportation only
weeks away, she went to Congress
with a group of former detainees,
trying to get help before it was
Overlapping voices, chit-chat.
I want everybody to speak as much
English as possible, OK? We're
talking about an amnesty bill,
you've been here 11 years. Sorry,
guys. If I was in China for 11
years, my ass would be speaking
Chinese, OK? Let's get with the
program. All English. Talk Chinese
to each other...
In a Congressional office.
So we want to reinforce the time
lapse. It's been three years since
we started this. All the background
checks have been done. What do we
have to do to get this out of
committee and get this on the
They walk through a hallway in Congress.
I just know in my heart, these
guys are going to be some damn good
citizens here. We watched them for
four years in the prison. They're
good people. They're worth every
bit of work that we've put into
this for 11 years.
They meet with a congressional aide.
As long as he's on a proposed
congressional bill he should be
very safe, and we were told this
many many times, and yet the INS is
sending him deportation letters.
This is just absolutely absurd.
It's gotten to the point where
these guys need to have some
Bev talks to the Golden Venture passengers.
This is very important. Now with
Congressman Platts, we're going to
be meeting with him and Scott
Miller, who you've met with before.
OK? And Congressman Platts is the
one we want to get the points
across to -- bigger. About the work
cards. And his letter, because...
he's our point man, so he's the one
that can handle these problems.
Passenger Michael Chen speaks with another former detainee.
We'll never be able to translate if
we don't stop him from time to
Hi, how are ya? How's everyone
Nice to meet you, Mr. Congressman.
Title: Rep. Todd Platts (R.-PA)
Afternoon. Or actually, it's still
morning. Good morning.
Title: Michael Chen, GV Passenger.
He's being told if you don't leave
this office I'll put you in prison.
They took away all his documents.
His I-94 card, his work card,
everything. All he had they took
away from him. And I called the
people, "Did you get a letter from
immigration." I was so nervous, if
I get a letter. Then he told me,
"Now what can I do? I have to sell
my property." So I was so nervous,
when I heard about it from him.
First thing he called me,and
hopefully in the future we, Mr.
Congressman can help us...
You're going to call Bev, and Bev's
going to call me real quick.
Thank you sir, you're a gentleman
and a scholar.
Keep pluggin away.
We'll get it.
Once they came here in an illegal
manner they paid a very significant
price. They were in prison for
approximately four years, so they
paid their debt to society for that
illegal conduct. Were then let go,
told: "you're free to go and to
remain in this country" -- but
there's never been closure
brought to their cases. They've
never been processed through to
have permanent legal status, to
have their green cards and to move
towards citizenship ultimately if
that's what they choose. My
legislation is seeking to bring
closure to them.
The private relief bill is being
considered by a Congressional
subcommittee. It's unclear when or
if the bill will come to a vote in
The bill in Washington? I was up
there last year. Personally I think
it's going to be difficult to pass
the bill. We need time, and we need
help. All I can say is that I need
to work hard.
After the lobbying trip, a
Congressional aide intervened on
Lin Min Yan's behalf.
His deportation notice was
Chapter 15: Unfinished Journey
A very good friend traveled with me